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December 24, 1985|MARTIN BERNHEIMER

"Toscanini--The Maestro/Verdi: Hymn of the Nations." VAI. $49.95. With a knowing compilation of documentary footage, rare home movies and contemporary interviews, Peter Rosen has produced a loving, poignant, discerning portrait of a temperamental giant who also happened to be a fierce individualist and rugged political moralist. James Levine, acting as host, provides a telling modern perspective. The final portion of the 74-minute cassette records a wartime broadcast of Verdi's gutsy peace cantata, with Jan Peerce as the ringing tenor soloist.

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